Four Amish in a Buick

Seen on I-70 in eastern Indiana on our holiday weekend road trip:
An Amish family of four – complete with Papa’s beard and wide brim hat, and Mama and 2 teenage daughters in their white bonnets – driving a late model Buick LeSabre with Kansas plates.
I know that some Amish are more strict than others, but after passing a couple in their buggies on Missouri gravel roads on Saturday, it was a little surreal seeing them doin’ 70 MPH in a large GM quasi-luxoliner, I’m sure with power windows and locks, AC and cruise control.
It also strikes me that “Four Amish in a Buick” is a good name for a rock band. Or maybe “Big Amish Buick” or “Amish Buick Daddy“.

It Wasn’t All Bad …

More from the inside cover of The Week, in their “It Wasn’t All Bad” section. Two stories out of three were blog-able.
Story one:

Two Massachusetts women whose husbands were killed in the World Trade Center on Sept. 11 are using the financial support they received afterward to assist widows of the civil war in Afghanistan. Susan Retik, 38, and Patti Quigley, 42, created Beyond the 11th, a nonprofit foundation, and have already donated $170,000 to charities helping Afghan widows. Last week, Quigley and Retik spent 6 days in Afghanistan, where they met some of the recipients of their donations. “We wanted people to understand that these widows were widows because of the same terrorists that affected our husbands,” said Quigley.

Story two:

David Davis, 16, had been bouncing around detention centers and foster homes in the Atlanta area since he was 7. He had always responded to crises with his fists, and once was suspended for bringing a knife to school. But soon after moving to the Haven Academy in 2004, he found that his teacher, Barbara Stephens, was getting through to him. “If I had to give up something, I would give up my bad behavior to live with Ms. Stephens,” he wrote in an essay. Deeply moved, Stephens and her husband decided to adopt Davis, and on Sunday they celebrated their first Mother’s day together.

Bible Talk Lesson – Safety

Notes from a Bible Talk originally delivered on 12/16/2005. Inspired by David Underwood’s post to New Wineskins here.
What does it mean to be ‘safe’?

    Closed, locked.

Let’s look at some spiritual concepts:

    If you want to live, you must die.
    If you want to be first, you must be last.
    If you want to be the most important, you must be the servant.
    If you want to be really rich in spirit, you must be poor in spirit.
    If you want to be strong, you must be weak.
    Instead of hating your enemies, love them!

Would it be safe to say that in the spiritual world, many things that seem obvious are the direct opposite of what we think of in the physical world?
The world view vs. the spiritual view.
God’s view vs. man’s view.

Then Jesus said to his disciples, “If anyone would come after me, he must deny himself and take up his cross and follow me. For whoever wants to save his life[a] will lose it, but whoever loses his life for me will find it. What good will it be for a man if he gains the whole world, yet forfeits his soul? Or what can a man give in exchange for his soul?

Matthew 16:24-26

In light of this verse the Biblical concepts we mentioned earlier, what does it mean to be ‘safe’ spiritually?


The way God looks at things, even very important things like safety, life or death, is not our way.
In order to really be ‘safe’, we must fight to grasp His view, his mindset. That’s what it means to repent, metanoia, to ‘change’ our mindset to His.
We need to not be content with the obvious answers (our answers), but search of God’s answers.

Midweek Lesson – Dreams & Personal Vision

I’ve been leading our house church for a few months now. I’ve meant to post my notes on our midweek lessons each week, but have forgotten to. We have our midweek lessons in our house churches (just smaller groups, arranged mostly by geography) most weeks, meeting as a churhc once a month. These are my notes, sometimes more readable than others and usually not delivered presicely in htis format, but close.
This is from last night, I’ll post others from past weeks as time goes on.

I’m not talking about dreams you have at night like the ones interpreted by Daniel and Joseph or prophesy like visions of the future, but goals and passions. What is it that drives you? What get’s you excited, worked up, angry?
Tell me about some of your past dreams. Dreams that came true, didn’t come true or dreams that you still hope will come true.

  • Becoming a Car designer
  • Marriage
  • Owning Grampa’s Thunderbird Thunderbird

Dreaming is a habit of those who lead the way.
Men of God in the past were dreamers & visionaries. They, through God, saw needs and sought to fulfill them. Their dream propelled their ministry and their life.
Can you name some Biblical leaders and the dreams they had?

  • Noah – An ark to save his family
  • Joseph – Leading his family
  • Moses – A free nation
  • Joshua – Conquest of Canaan
  • David – A defeated Goliath
  • Nehemiah – A rebuilt temple
  • Jesus – A people reconciled to God
  • Peter – Spread the gospel
  • Paul – A unified church, particularly Jew and Gentile

For none of these men were the dreams their idea. It seems that in every case, God put the dream on their hearts. For some, like David and Nehemiah, the dream grew naturally out of the relationship with God, for others like Moses and Paul, God had to be rather persuasive, but it was God putting it on their hearts.
Just as God put a dream on their hearts, I believe that God has a dream to put on your heart.

Then Peter stood up with the Eleven, raised his voice and addressed the crowd: “Fellow Jews and all of you who live in Jerusalem, let me explain this to you; listen carefully to what I say. These men are not drunk, as you suppose. It’s only nine in the morning! No, this is what was spoken by the prophet Joel:
” ‘In the last days, God says,
I will pour out my Spirit on all people.
Your sons and daughters will prophesy,
your young men will see visions,
your old men will dream dreams.
Even on my servants, both men and women,
I will pour out my Spirit in those days,
and they will prophesy.

Acts 2:14-18

Of all the scriptures of the OT, Peter used this one to launch the NT church. Though we are not commanded to dream and plan, but God had said that we, in these ‘last days’, would be dreamers and visionaries. Are we? Patrick Mead posted this thought provoking idea the yesterday: “When you die, as we all will, you can either fill a hole or leave it. Your choice.” If we live as dreamers, persuing God’s dream for us, when we leave this world, we will leave a hole behind that will not be easily filled.
I think one of our biggest mistakes in the past was letting men instead of God put dreams on our hearts. We were told that everyone’s dream was to be to evangelize the world or the church leader would declare what dream the church members should adopt. World evangelism is an important goal, and a corporate vision in the church is a good thing for us to be united on, but those may not align with the personal passion and vision that God has created for you.
The flip side can be when we try to make our dreams God’s. One night many months ago, I was stressed over many things that were happening in the church, I felt overwhelmed with the burden of communicating with our ministerwhat should be done in all of these areas, to make sure that they were all handled correctly (as if I alone had the right answers). As I was praying about these things, I asked God, what I was supposed to do? His response was, nothing, just give yourself to my people. These issues were real issues, & I may have opinions, but they mostly weren’t my problem to handle. I wanted to create my own dream and vision and adopt for myself all these grand plans and make a big difference. God said no, I have different plans for you, a different dream.
While we participate in the dreams of our church and house church, we should also look to God and petition Him about His personal dream for us. What is it that God is waiting for you to stop and listen to Him so He can place it on your heart? Are you too busy to hear Him?
Don’t make the mistake of assuming that if a dream is from God, it must be grand, on the scale of world evangelism, eliminating hunger or a church planting. It is more likely to be much smaller, but just important – for it is what God has called you to. Maybe it’s as simple as representing God in your school or workplace, preparing your kids to live in the world and getting them to heaven or just being a light of encouragement to those around you.
Let’s spend this week in prayer that God would put his dream for us on our hearts. And as we pray, let’s be listening for His direction more than we try to find answers. Next Wednesday let’s be ready to share what we’ve learned about God’s dream for us.

Mazda3 Review

Virusdoc asked what I thought about my new Mazda3 after nearly 3 months of ownership. Rather than replying in the comments there, I thought I’d write a little ‘review’.
First things first, I absolutely love the car. It’s a joy to look at, inside and out, and to drive. I’ve put on about 4,200 miles in 2.5 months and have not had any major problems with it to date. The kids think it’s cool and want to go everywhere in it, but when it’s all 5 of us we still take the Odyssey. Three kids in the back seat of a compact car is just too much temptation for discord. They love having their own power window button (the Escort had cranks), the interior lights that fade on and off and the fact that it greets you with a jaunty ‘Hello!’ on the radio when you start it up.
Here’s what I like:

  • Looks
    There’s no car on the road, particularly in this price range, that is more distinctive that the Mazda3, particularly the 5 door. I love not seeing another car like mine every day, sometimes not even every week. It’s a little ironic, since everyone seems to love this car. People that I didn’t think cared 2 hoots about cars have commented on it, yet few are buying. Go figure.
  • Performance
    In this case it’s mostly handling since acceleration, though more than adequate, is not it’s strong suit. But it’s more than just handling, its the feel of the steering, the crisp & precise shifter and the raspy snarl of the exhaust. This is a micro-wagon with attitude.
  • Interior
    The interior of this car makes it feel more expensive than it is. Just the right textures and fabrics, pleasing shapes, well thought out part lines, complete instrument lighting (including the steering wheel buttons & driver’s door controls), tilt and telescoping wheel and on and on. There are tons of storage compartments inside as well, pockets in all 4 doors, 6 cup holders, a double storage compartment in the console and a 2 tier glove box big enough for an 8.5 x 11 notebook.
    Additionally, I love the airbag design. Maybe this is common to all new cars, I don’t know. My 1999 Odyssey has a single stage airbag designed for a 200+ pound, unbelted male. My wife is 4′ 10″ and well under 200 pounds. She sits very close to the wheel, so I pulled the plug on the airbag. In the 3, not only does the telescoping wheel let her get the airbag farther away, it has a dual stage design that deploys with less force based on seat position. On the passenger side, the airbag turns itself off it there is no passenger or if it senses a passenger lighter than something like 70 pounds. That means when it’s just me and the 3 girls, the 9 or 11 year old (they’re both about the same size) can ride up front in safety.
  • Hatchback Design
    I love hatchbacks. Since I’ve been buying cars I’ve owned four: 1980 Chevy Monza, 1988 Nissan Pulsar, 1993 Escort and now the 3 . You get a sportier look and the versatility of those flip down seats when you need to carry something big. With the 3, though, Mazda went a few steps beyond. The cargo cover is hinged in the center allowing access to the trunk from the back seat. The cargo area has 6 or 8 tie down hooks for securing cargo. Under the cargo floor is a shallow tray with recesses for the jack handle and lug wrench plus two other compartments, one just right for my snow scraper. That carpeted floor board is two pieces which can be removed and arrayed in several ways to divide the cargo area, great for keeping your gallons of milk or pot luck dish from careening across the trunk on the way home. Very well done.

There’s a lot to love, but there are a few disappointments:

  • Wipers
    On the 2004-2005, there’s no variable intermittent for the front wipers. You do get intermittent, just one speed. That’s the same as the old Escort and I was looking forward to an enhancement there. The 2006 has it, but there’s no way to add it to the 2004-2005, it’s been tried.
  • Economy
    Actually, it’s really not too bad I do probably 75% – 80% highway driving, usually at around 70 MPH. Over the 4,200 miles I’ve averaged 27.8 MPG. I’ve had a high of 30 and a low of 24 . The EPA ratings are 26 & 32, so I’m not too far off. The disappointment comes in comparison to the Escort, admittedly a different kind of car. In 10 years, I got as low as 18 and as high as 42, averaging 31.5. In hindsight, I wish I would have at least driven a Mazda3i, only available in the 4 door. It only gives up 10 ponies but has EPA ratings of 28 & 35. By contrast, however, the new Honda Civic, with 20 HP less than my 5 door, has EPA ratings of 30 & 38, but it wouldn’t be nearly this fun or versatile.
  • Aero Flares
    If I had ordered this car, I wouldn’t have gotten the aero flares. It’s $500 option that adds 4 small painted plastic bits to the bumpers, 2 at each end. If you check the photos you can see them, under the fog lights in front and under the side marker in the rear. You have to look hard to notice them, which is one reason I don’t like them. $500 is a lot of money for something most folk won’t know is there. But worse, they don’t fit well at all. They gap away from the bumper in various places. I’m going to bring this up at my first service appointment, and maybe even see if they can be removed.
  • License Plate
    The knuckleheads at the dealer missed the big molded in divot for drilling the license plate holes on one side, so my rear plate is crooked. Not Mazda’s fault and hopefully, for the dealer’s sake, it can be fixed without replacing the entire bumper. As long as the two holes don’t intersect and the mis-drilled hole does not show, I’m OK with just re-drilling.

All in all, pretty minor complaints and I love the car, no regrets at all. Highly recommended if you’re looking for a unique, versatile, good looking, fun to drive and reasonably economical car.

Stupid Car Repair Tricks

For the gearhead readers. Have you done any bonehead things while workign on your car (or tractor or??)? Autoblog is looking for submissions here, inspired by Car Craft magazine’s Stupid Gearhead Stories. Here’s my submission:

Oh boy. Let’s see.
1 – Dad’s ’80 Citation had a bad clutch safety switch, so I occasionally started it by shorting across the starter with a screwdriver. This involved placing my arm between the radiator and the engine past the elbow. One time I forgot to take it out of gear. Thankfully it was in reverse, so I didn’t get run over when it started. I managed to get in it and stop it in the neighbor’s front yard before it got to their living room.
2 – Putting a clutch in my ’80 Chevy Monza, my friend put the clutch disc in backwards. He, my Dad and I spent something like 4-6 hours trying to get that tranny in before we finally took the bell housing off, despite my friend’s protests that he was sure it was in right.
3 – My ’76 Camaro was dead in the driveway and I wanted to get to in the garage to find out why. The problem was there was no one home to help. No problem for a teenager. I just put the Camaro in neutral and used Dad’s ’77 Cutlass to push it up the driveway. The right turn into the garage did present a little problem, but by pushing it a little, stopping, cranking the wheel on the Camaro, letting it roll back a little, cranking the wheel the other way and then pushing a little more, I was doing fine. Until Mom and Dad got home. They were not impressed with my creativity.
I’m sure there are more, but I don’t remember them now.

Anyone else got a story to share?

Blogroll Update

A quick note, Patrick Mead of Tent Pegs is branching out. He’s turning Tent Pegs into a blog about family and parenting issues and posting other stuff about his work at the Rochester Church of Christ at his new blog, creatively titled Patrick Mead. I’ve added it to the blogroll.
Every parent concerned with preparing their kids to follow and find God on their own (that would be every parent, right?) should bookmark Tent Pegs and go read it at least weekly. It’s that good.

Remind Me Again, Why Is Unity So Hard?

I know that several of the readers of this blog are very concerned with unity between churches and church groups, particularly between the various restoration movement fellowships. Let me share something with you that I read today from Dan at Cerulean Sanctum:

I go to Clear Mountain Community Church in Williamsburg, OH. It’s an independent Pentecostal church that is one of the most unusual churches I’ve ever encountered. What makes it unique is that it is a church merge (as opposed to a split–that in itself is rarer), but it’s the merger of a Pentecostal church and a Church of Christ. Yeah, you read that right. I’ve been there a year-and-a-half and I still can’t believe it.

If that COC can find enough common ground with a Pentacostal church to merge with them, why in the world can’t the rest of us in the restoration movement, with all that we share, come together?

Time to Grow Up

I came across this at Mike Cope’s blog the other day:

I’ve mentioned before the three views one can have of parents: a child’s view (my parents are perfect and have no faults); an adolescent’s view (my parents are embarrassing imbeciles); and a mature adult’s view (my parents have strengths and faults).
Those are the same views one can have of a religious heritage.

It got me thinking of us ICOC & ex-ICOC folk.
It seems to me that it’s time for us to grow up.
There are some out there who are still children. The ICOC was all good, nothing wrong. The past 3 years were from Satan, a distraction and it’s time to get back to it. All of it – the discipling, the hierarchy, the evangelist control, the ‘we’re the kingdom’ mindset, everything.
Others are like adolescents. There was never anything good in the ICOC. This is from folks who were immersed in it for years, but now it’s the spawn of Satan. Everything that comes out of an ICOC church is evil, their motives are selfish, they are out for your money and anyone still involved is dumber than a box of rocks and duped.
Time for some of us to grow up. Our ICOC heritage is a blessing and a curse. Many were saved, the gospel was preached, many nations were reached, HOPEworldwide was formed, much good was done. But we must be honest, we were pretty stupid, arrogant, hurtful and even duped at times too. Let’s learn from our mistakes and even laugh at our former foolishness, but please, let’s not pretend it was only either a bed of roses or a torture chamber, OK?

And Now, the Rest of the Story

I promised you some follow up on our UP process. Actually, this is more my reaction to the end of the process.
Wednesday night April 26th, after the church had a chance to voice their opinion on the UP via the Likert Scale vote, our minister sent an email out detailing the results and saying that since the congregation’s general opinion roughly mirrored the leadership’s, he would be sending an email to the Unity Porposal Group at noon the following day (the 28th) indicating our signing, unless there were objections.
It was at this point that my emotions went into overdrive. It felt that the careful deliberate process went into high gear all of a sudden. 15 hours from ‘vote’ to signature, after a month of deliberation! I had a hard time getting to sleep that night, my mind in overdrive about how we needed to anylize the results more, think about what they mean, etc. I did eventually sleep and after waking up I sent a hasty email back to him expressing my concern. I was also concerned that about those who were not at midweek and therefore hadn’t yet been heard.
His response, in a word, was “OK.” For one, he agreed that we should try to capture the remaining opinion on the matter, just as we had done on the elections for the board of directors. But he also indicated that if I felt strongly about it and it was going to make me struggle to act so quickly, we would wait. Even though in his mind the process had run it’s course and the results were not disputable, waiting a few days for my sake would not hurt anything.
After I had time to pray and to go over the numbers myself, I realized that there was no way to intrepet them other than the church, on average, was in favor of signing the proposal. Yes, those who were against felt more strongly about it, but averaging the scores still was in favor of signing. The ony way that the results would be changed is if nearly all the remaining votes were ‘not in favor’ and that was unlikely. My reaction was emotional not rational.
After my prayer time, and therefore in my right mind, I sent him this email:

Thank again for this, it does my heart good.
I could go through my analysis and my perspective, but I actually don’t think that’s as relevant. We can go over them later, it might be good. It will be good to talk, but I wanted to put my thoughts on ‘paper’ first because it helps me crystallize them.
The bottom line is that this decision hurts. Not because of anything anyone said or did or because I feel that the process failed, but actually probably more because it succeeded. We got the perspective of the church, and the church (on average, as a whole, more or less, however you want to put it) is in a very different place than I am. I told BG last night that the lack of questions was surprising to me and it just confirmed that I’m on the fringe. He responded “You and me both, brother”
And that’s what hurts, being – or at least feeling – outside of the mainstream, on the fringe. It hurts and it’s scary. If I’m on the edge, what happens if the edge moves and I don’t? If I’m on the edge, will I be left behind if the church moves? The UP showed me that there’s a feeling within our movement that we need to go back toward where we came from. I have no desire to go back in that direction personally. In some ways, though I treasure my heritage in many ways, I don’t feel like I, personally, want to be a part of ‘the ICOC’ anymore. The ‘vote’ (and I use quotes because I know it’s not really a vote, but I don’t know what else to call it) shows that most of my church does want to go back. And then a part of me wonders if I belong here.
PLEASE, don’t read anything more into that than just what is stated, I have no desire to leave or even explore leaving. I fact, on many levels I feel more tied to the CCOC than before. I’m just sharing my heart and my hurt. Given that, I think in addition to contacting the third of the church that did not get a chance to be heard, it might be prudent to contact the 10 folks who expressed strong feelings against (assuming we know who they are) and see how us moving forward with signing would make them feel. I just want to make sure that, while listening to the 99 we don’t leave the one behind. If you agree and I can help in that, I will. It may be appropriate to have one who feels as they do talk to them.
I have absolute confidence that this is what you intend – not leaving anyone behind. You have shown me nothing but grace through this disagreement and others, even though I’ve given you reasons not to, and for that example I am grateful. You’ve responded to my needs, even when born of emotion (and producing in you frustration πŸ™‚ ) and made sure I’ve been heard. Thank you.
I understand that at the end of this, unless an overwhelming majority of the remaining folks are not in favor of signing, there is no logical reason we should not sign. Only if it is going to cause one of us on the -2 side harm, should we perhaps reconsider. Of course, what then if not signing does the same for someone else on the +2 side … Ugh.
I wish there was an alternate choice besides yes or no. I wish we could say ‘pass’, we are neither in favor or apposed and just want to keep doing what we’ve been doing. The Toronto Church has done the closest thing to that, but in doing so, of course, they are still saying ‘no’. You can read their gracious response to the UP here (bottom half of the page).
Anyway, I’ll work through my emotions and we will move on. I understand that means signing the agreement before the week is out.
Thanks again for listening.

I was the the only one to react and ask for the signing to be delayed. I was the only one to express this kind of frustration. Yet, because of the emotions of one of us, all of us waited. In this one action we lived out Romans 14, and for that my heart is pleased. Not so much that my emotional needs were taken care of, but that we are a church that would do that for one of us.
We got a chance to talk later and he reasured me that not only was my perspective valuable, it wasn’t unique. My take on the UP itself may have put me in a small subset of the church, but my thoughts on the broader and more important issues of unity, cooperation with other churches, reaching out to non-ICOC church and so on were shared by most if not all of the church. The differences were not fundamental but ones of interpretation and implementation. Not should we persue unity, relationships with other churches, etc, but how should we.
It’s interesting that , much like Pinakidion, I found that some share the same thoughts as I but came to very differnt conclusions. I was concerned that the UP would end up in division and a return to old ways and could not support it for that reason. Our minister had very similar concerns, yet felt it best to sign with that awareness and be watchful. I desire to build bridges to other RM churches and could not support the UP because I saw it as building walls between us, yet another in our fellowship who longs for such relationships as well was a strong supporter of the UP (writing in a +2.5, that’s how strongly they suppported it!) It’s amazing thing how people with the same vision & goals can come to very different conclusions on the methods.

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